Magnetic bracelets, a form of magnet therapy, have been touted as an effective way to relieve arthritis pain, but research supporting these benefits is scant, with some suggesting that the beneficial effects are likely related to a placebo effect. (when people experience benefit after receiving inactive treatment), and not an actual benefit. There are other alternative treatments for arthritis – some also seem questionable, while others have evidence-based benefits.
Magnetic bracelets in medicine
Magnetotherapy is one of the oldest recorded medical treatments in history. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily make it good. A magnetic bracelet that promises pain relief may seem like a quick and attractive solution, but science has shown that it doesn't deliver the benefits it promises.
The use of magnetotherapy has been of interest to the population and the scientific community, at least since the time of the ancient Greeks. Magnets are believed to have healing powers for pain. Cleopatra is believed to have believed in magnetic therapy and used it when she slept with a magnet on her forehead to maintain her youthful appearance.
Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, promoted magnets as a remedy. Other prominent scientists and public figures have announced magnetic therapy, including physician and physicist Sir William Gilbert, who claimed to have used magnets to relieve Queen Elizabeth's arthritic pain.
Magnetic bracelets have become popular after professional athletes shared rave reviews on how magnets treat pain and injury.
Magnetic bracelets on the market differ in the types of metals and alloys used, construction, appearance, and strength. According to many sellers, magnetic bracelets can be sporty or trendy. Some vendors have a wide variety of options including bracelets, cuffs, links, or loose fitting clothing.
In terms of material, these bracelets use different types of metals, including:
- Stainless steel
Some magnetic bracelets are also made of ferrite (a mixture of iron and barium) or are neodymium magnets (iron, boron, and neodymium). Magnetic bracelets typically have a strength of 300 to 5000 gauss.
How are they supposed to work?
Magnetic bracelets are believed to do two things: reduce pain and increase blood flow. Magnets create an electromagnetic field. The idea is that magnets applied to the skin affect the circulation of iron in the blood, which helps carry nutrients to the joints .
There are three types of magnetic fields: paramagnetic, ferromagnetic, and diamagnetic. Iron in the blood is not ferromagnetic, which means that it is not attracted to magnets and therefore commercially available magnetic bracelets do not alter blood flow .
Some healers believe that magnetic bracelets can increase endorphins, regulate emotions, slow disease progression, and more.
What the research shows
Research has shown that magnetic bracelets do not relieve arthritis symptoms. A study that looked at the effects of magnetic bracelets on people with osteoarthritis found no change in pain, stiffness, or physical function in the participants. Another study looked at its effect in people with rheumatoid arthritis, but found no therapeutic effect either. for pain, stiffness, or swelling .
In a review of 29 relevant studies, none found clear evidence for the use of magnetic bracelets as a pain reliever or blood flow inducing treatment .
Magnets can interfere with medical devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps. Also, magnets are small and can be swallowed by children.
Other alternative treatments
There are other forms of alternative treatment that can help with arthritis pain:
- Anti-inflammatory diet
- Herbs including aloe vera, eucalyptus, cat's claw, ginger, and green tea.
- Supplements including fish oil, SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine), Boswellia Serrata , and capsaicin.
However, these alternative treatments should not replace traditional treatments. Talk to your doctor before starting any new supplements or diets.
In addition to treatment, lifestyle changes can also bring relief, including:
- Give up smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Apply a cold compress
- Performing stress reduction techniques.
- Sleep hygiene
These lifestyle changes have been shown to support therapeutic treatment and modify symptoms.
Get the word of drug information
It's hard not to try a treatment that has received so many positive reviews, but in the case of magnetic arthritis pain bracelets, there is simply no evidence. They can be attractive because they appear to be a quick fix for arthritis symptoms. You deserve relief – find it with legitimate products, services, and lifestyle measures that have strong scientific backing. Talk to your doctor about medical and alternative therapies that can actually relieve pain and improve your symptoms.